You know that homeschool one mom – the one who is always calm, whose kids are always clean and polite? The mother who always arrives early, looking perfect, with snacks and drinks?
There seems to be one in every co-op. A mom who makes it all look easy, like she isn’t trying. She is always ready for company, her lesson plans are always pristine, and there are never any dried french fries or piles of cracker crumbs in her car.
She’s the ideal that we often strive for but rarely achieve. We don’t do things a certain way because we’re lacking in some way, but because that’s just not who we are.
We’re the more laid-back moms, the moms who wear leggings, the moms who have more receipts in our purses than lesson plans in our notebooks. We don’t always dress trendy, our food isn’t always home-cooked, and we’re not always neat. Raise your hand if you’re an unorganized homeschool mom!
Unorganized Homeschool Mom No More!
Despite the amount of tips and tricks available online, it is still difficult to get yourself organized. We would need to change our personalities, the way we think, and how we do things in order to organize our lives. Not only is that hard, it’s unrealistic.
There are ways for an unorganized homeschool mom to become more organized, without needing to change who they are at their core. Use your personality to your benefit rather than trying to be someone else. They will help you become more comfortable with who you are and work more efficiently with what is easiest for you. You can still homeschool even if you’re not very organized.
1. Stop Using Complicated Planners
There is an enormous planner fanbase. Many fans who can name manufacturers and styles. These are the people who have washi tape in their pocket, sticky tabs on auto ship, and a masterful color-coding system.
They have different planners for different purposes such as appointments, meal planning, and homeschooling. There are families who have entire command centers set up in their homes. This usually includes a whiteboard on the wall with different categories, alphabetized notebooks with information on each kid, notes about upcoming events, practices, recitals, carpools, bills, and even the dog’s heartworm medication schedule.
If this sounds overwhelming to you, don’t worry. That style of organization is not for you.
If you’re not naturally organized, adding more organization will not work well. If you’re struggling to keep things in order, adding more things to keep track of will only make the problem worse. So don’t try to adopt a complicated organizational system all at once. Keep it simple. Sometimes embarrassingly so.
A single planner to keep all dates in. You shouldn’t overcomplicate things by adding different colors and categories to your calendar. Appointments should be written in the same box as your aunt’s birthday.
I’ve tried every system known to exist! Online calendars that sync across all my devices, self-categorize, and let me download the sports schedules for each kid sound like a really great idea, but I found that I hate figuring out how to type everything in. And I never look at it once I’ve set it up.
Old fashioned paper & pen work best for me. A friend uses whiteboards to keep things front & center. The trick is to know what works for you.
2. Don’t Stick to a Schedule
I realize how counter-intuitive this sounds. There is a lot of information available on homeschool scheduling. There are people who make a living out of teaching other families how to perfectly schedule their homeschool days. Although schedules can help to keep things running smoothly, they can also be restrictive and cause problems. They are not for everyone.
People who have trouble staying organized are usually afraid of schedules. For them, schedules aren’t a relief, they’re restrictive. Disorganized people are adaptable and easily distracted. They need room to move and change.
Having a timeline for the day’s subjects can make these people feel overwhelmed, and suddenly what was supposed to be a math lesson from 10am to 11am becomes a race against time to finish. Though there is no set punishment for failing to stick to a homeschooling schedule, the mom still feels pressure to be organized. She feels as though she’s failing at something or has to answer to someone else if she veers from her schedule or doesn’t meet her day’s objectives by a specific time.
Instead of following a strict schedule, try one of these simple homeschooling schedules.
At first, think about a basic, adjustable block schedule. Write down every class or subject you are taking, decide how often you want to work on each one, and then only study those topics on specific days. You can complete the subjects at any time of day, in any order, as long as all of the subjects are covered. You can spend as much time as you want on this task, or move on to the next one if you’re finished. You can work during a nap, have an extra snack, or take a walk through the woods. You do not need a detailed schedule of the day or school year as long as you finish what you need to.
Homeschooling while another parent is home can be easier on the weekends. If your child wants to graduate early, they can as long as they have met all the subject requirements. Homeschooling offers a lot of flexibility that you don’t get when you have to stick to a schedule. Embrace the flexibility and forget about needing to follow a set schedule.
If the block idea doesn’t sound good to you, think about making a daily routine that gives you a general idea of what your day will be like without having to worry about specific times or lessons. Cindy’s plan for having a successful day is to have a general plan that mostly goes in the same order every day. There are no time limits or strict divisions between one thing and the next, but instead everything flows together smoothly.
A daily chore time can also be included in the school day. This makes it so that everyone knows what to do next. If you need to take more time for one task than the next, it’s not a problem because you’ll know what to do next and can just move on to it.
Looping is a great way for an unorganized homeschool mom to get organized. It may be the easiest of all the methods. You put your homeschool curriculum in a line or bin or basket and pick the next thing when it’s time to start school. You complete as many tasks as you can during the day, moving them to the back of the queue as you finish them. The number of things you have to do will determine how often you have to do them.
Some parents will choose to have their child do work that is a must, like math and language arts, in a separate place. They work on the must-dos every day and then go through the other subjects that don’t need to be taught every day.
3. Don’t Keep a Clean Classroom
You might not want to have a classroom at all. An unorganized homeschool mom, who is given a large space to work with, may have difficulty keeping it clean and tidy. This can be especially hard if she also has to worry about making it presentable to others. They find it harder than others to own a bookshelf because of their personalities. A room to an unorganized person is like a box with walls, it’s somewhere full of space to toss things. There are items in the room that need to be kept track of, books that need to be kept in order, and supplies that need to be separated. There’s simply no need for this.
Don’t try to force yourself to fit an idealized image of homeschooling, just do what works for you and your family. You should keep items such as a bookshelf, sets of drawers, and totes, in one location.
Do crayons and colored pencils really need to be kept separate? Is it necessary for a drawer to be full of scissors, glue, a pencil sharpener, and pipe cleaners in order for a child to learn? The organized homeschool mom spends less time focused on her organizational system, because it is comfortable and familiar to her.
Keep books on shelves by subject and/or by student. You can keep your child’s school materials organized by storing them in totes or drawers that are specific to their grade level. Books don’t have to be put away in alphabetical order, and they don’t all need to have their spines facing the same way (although this is helpful). They just need to be in one central location.
I understand that this may sound like I am giving up, being lazy, or making the problem worse, but when an adult who is disorganized is allowed to find or create a system that works with them, instead of against who they are, it is so much more peaceful.
I don’t think that there should be rules about where supplies go. You have permission to keep your things organized in a way that is convenient for you and ensures that your materials are well-contained without being too restrictive.
4. GET RID OF CLUTTER
It is very difficult to stay organized when your environment is full of clutter.
When you homeschool, it’s very easy to accumulate clutter. Your home can become a chaotic mess with all the different school materials, such as curriculums, art projects, worksheets, and records.
Many homeschoolers are struggling with maintaining organization and tidiness, and feel overwhelmed with the task of decluttering. They may feel like it’s impossible to fix the mess, so they just give up and continue living in the cluttered space.
If the thought of decluttering your home feels overwhelming, try not to do everything in one day.
Start with one area of your home, and then move to another area. Start by cleaning the small or most visible places, such as counter tops or floors, before moving on to closets, cupboards, etc.
Be as ruthless as you can. Get rid of anything that’s broken or torn. Don’t forget about the stuff you haven’t used in a long time and don’t plan to use in the future.
After you declutter your home, you can choose to either sell or donate the items you no longer want.
I have made some money by selling unused or old items on eBay. I have made extra money by taking the time to sort through, clean and photograph items for sale.
When you de-clutter you have, you will feel lighter immediately.
5. CLEAN AND TIDY UP YOUR HOME
I realize it can be tough to find the time to clean and organize when you’re homeschooling, however it’s a crucial part of staying organized.
It can be difficult to find the time to clean when you have multiple kids at home, especially if you have babies or toddlers.
If you want to make time for something, you have to do it yourself or get someone else to do it for you.
I’m not asking you to do everything yourself or to clean everywhere at once.
You shouldn’t have to clean and tidy up your home by yourself. Some tasks can be delegated to your kids, especially older ones.
You can create a list of chores that are appropriate for your children’s age and assign these chores to your kids. I’m one of those moms who like to do things myself. I generally prefer to do things myself as it tends to take less time and I can be sure it will be done the way I want it.
In the end, I exhaust myself because I’m trying to do everything. As my children get older, I become better at delegating and assigning tasks to them.
I find it easier to give them responsibility because they can complete tasks without supervision and to an acceptable standard.
Start by choosing an area of your home to declutter.
If your house is messy and you’re able to afford professional cleaners, don’t hesitate to hire them. It’s a worthwhile investment.
If your home is clean and tidy, it will have a positive effect on your mental state and the environment of your homeschool.
You may also find using a cleaning schedule helpful. A cleaning schedule is a helpful tool that can keep you organized and tell you when and how to clean different areas of your home. You are not required to use one if you do not want to.
It is important to have a routine or schedule for cleaning your home.
6. ORGANIZE YOUR HOMESCHOOL ROOM
I know that not everyone has a room in their house that is dedicated to homeschooling, and I understand that some people may not want one.
I don’t have a room that is specifically for homeschooling, but I do have a designated space in my home where all of the homeschool supplies and curriculum are kept. I believe it is critical to have all items in a single location.
The area of your house where you do homeschooling and the materials you use for it are what this strategy refers to as your homeschool room.
We were constantly moving where we did homeschooling, depending on the season and our moods. Sometimes we found a patch of sunshine in the front yard and worked out there. Other times, we had a complete set up in a dedicated room. Don’t become dogmatic.
I loved the times when both kids were working at the kitchen table. I could do meal prep or clean-up while they were working.
As they get older, it may become more difficult for both kids to focus on their schoolwork at the kitchen table. They can start working more independently.
If your kids are older or tend to get easily distracted, you may need to create a dedicated space for them to minimize distractions and help their lessons move along more quickly.
Here are some ideas for organizing your homeschool area:
- Organize your bookcase. Remove books from the shelves after you’re done with them (or move them to the bottom of the bookcase).Keep the ones you use frequently on the top shelves.
- Assign one or two shelves to each child (especially if you have kids in multiple grades). Put their books, notebooks, binders, folders, files, lessons etc on their individual shelf so you don’t have to keep looking for them.
- Give each child a work area. Let them choose where it’s most comfortable for them. It can be the floor, table or couch. What’s important is that they get their work done.
- Have a place for everything. Depending on what you have at home, you may need to invest in some supplies to help you organize your homeschool.
- Have a separate place for all your teacher supplies. It can be a shelf on the bookcase, a basket on your desk or something like that. I find it easier to keep my stuff separate from the children’s.
- Get in the habit of putting everything back at the end of the day. This is one of the easiest ways to stay organized. For example, books and folders go back on the bookcase, pencils go in their pencil cases or pouches, art supplies go in their bins, baskets or drawers etc.
- Get rid of out-of-date materials, records, paperwork, empty containers or consumables that are no longer useful
There’s No Shame in Being an Unorganized Homeschool Mom
It’s really ok to accept the chaotic side of your personality. Instead of thinking of it as a negative quality or a sign of weakness, accept that you can be successful and happy without needing to rely on strict, demanding, and uncomfortable methods of organization. Creative people are seldom always neat and regimented. Finding a happy medium where you may not be perfectly organized, but you don’t waste time looking for lost items every day is perfectly good enough. The homeschool years go by so fast. Don’t waste them by trying to become someone you are not.